CORE is something almost all of you should be able to recognize to some degree. For transfer students coming to Lawrence in their sophomore years or above, CORE sadly may not have been a part of your Lawrence experience at all. But for all of you who came here as awkward little freshman babies, CORE was a part of your first year whether you wanted it to be or not.
Remember CORE? For those of you who peaced out after the mandatory events during Welcome Week, CORE may have been nothing more than a place where you saw the people you would be suffering through Plato’s “Republic” with, and where you were told about a bunch of fun events that you probably thought yourself too cool to attend. And that is OK! CORE is not for everyone, and for those of you who barely attended meetings, you may have missed out on some fun bonding and free snacks, but you obviously figured out how to survive freshman year on your own, so good job.
But honestly, even despite my bias as a former CORE leader, I would argue CORE truly is for everyone. When people come to Lawrence for the first time, they are more than likely leaving their family to go to school somewhere farther away from home for the first time, and they are also now engaging with a much more rigorous academic program. These alone are big and stressful changes, not to mention on top of that most students probably did not know a single person when they first got here. The average new freshman is going to be dealing with some big ol’ life changes and going through various stages of stress as they figure out who they are going to be on campus.
CORE can be a safe space, a place for you to have a support system made up of fellow sufferers of freshman year as well as some upperclassmen who can provide some advice for how to survive. Honestly, in its truest form, CORE is a Survival 101 class for freshmen on how to live through Lawrence culture and make it out the other side — and hopefully not become avid players of the Lawrence Game. It is a place where you can ask the questions you may be too embarrassed to ask your peers or professors, like how to do laundry or if campus safety is scary or why the river bugs are a thing dear God why make it stop there are so many of them — anyways.
Within CORE, students who more often than not do not yet have a support-based community on campus can find others looking for the same thing and come together to help each other out, whether that means studying for a test, complaining about Bon App or trying to break into the Nipple of Knowledge. I am still friends with many of the people who were in my own CORE group, and it is fun to see them across campus and see how we have changed since our awkward first-year selves — or stayed the same, in my case.
I understand I cannot speak for everyone here, because I was lucky to both have a great CORE group as a freshman where my friend Lizzy brought her pet rat to run around and we talked about everything and had yummy snacks. We had a great group of Corgis as a CORE leader who I still meet up with to check in with them and see how cute they are. Some people did not have the positive experiences that I did in CORE, but despite the fact that CORE may not have affected every single student on campus like it did for me, I still think the decision to no longer have CORE on our campus is a big mistake.
CORE is not perfect, it still does not reach as many students as it could and the drop-out rate of CORE as the weeks progress into a term is still always on a positive slope. Even just deciding to discontinue CORE meetings into Winter Term this year shows how little attendance it often had previously in winter trimesters. Also, CORE still needs to work on reaching out to conservatory and international students to help incorporate them more on campus. But despite its imperfections, I truly believe CORE is in no way beyond salvation. All the problems I mentioned are easily solved, especially if they are allowed to be solved by fellow students.
The best part about CORE is that it is by students, for students, from students. The person who you have as your CORE leader is not some distant hired RHD or professor; they are another student on campus who cares enough about your experience on campus that they are willing to put time in every week to be there for you and support you. That right there, that sense of giving and community, is the best part of CORE, and it is also a crucial part of what it means to be a Lawrentian — finding time in our crazy schedules to help each other however we can.
CORE overall has a strong and positive impact on our campus, not just for the freshmen but also for the upperclassmen who are willing to help out and become CORE leaders. The value of this sense of community on campus will be sorely missed if Lawrence truly does not bring CORE back in some degree next year.
In the email all CORE leaders received, it was stated that the main reason CORE would no longer continue was because the grant to support CORE funding has run out. I personally think that this reason is pretty lame in comparison to the positive effect CORE has on campus, and that if we students really want to, we can rally together to either get new funding or figure out a new way to reinvent CORE so it costs the school less without raising our student activity fees more.
In conclusion, here is a quote from a corgi of mine who had been planning on becoming a CORE leader next year. “My CORE leaders taught me I can still be friends with upperclassmen, despite being a first-year. I still talk to them and most everyone in my CORE group this term, even though we don’t have classes or meetings together because my group helped broaden my perspective and find my own unique identity — if it weren’t for CORE, I would not be the person I am today.”